Constituents of New Hampshire, the reports of the demise of the Republican Caucus in the New Hampshire House of Representatives are greatly exaggerated.
If you were to believe the political gossip as of late, you might think that the failure of House of Representatives to pass a budget lies solely on the shoulders of House Republicans. But let’s be clear — a strong majority of Republicans supported both budget bills.
Why wouldn’t the majority of Republicans support a budget proposal that met a number of goals set forth in the Republican Party platform, and the House Republican agenda? These items included no new or increased taxes or fees, limiting total fund spending to no more than the rate of inflation, reform and reorganization of government agencies to be more efficient and responsive, and eliminated downshifting by proposing to send $50 million in additional aid to cities and towns and an additional $45 million in local infrastructure aid.
There is no budget that will be 100 percent favorable to any individual legislator. It isn’t easy finding the perfect balance with legislation as complex as the state budget. In the end, we are confident that with a Republican Legislature and a Republican governor, the final product will achieve many of the points the House budget sought to achieve.
There are few things that we can be certain of in the New Hampshire Legislature. The final outcome of the legislative process may not be known until the time the votes are cast in Representatives Hall. One thing we can be sure of this term is House Democrats’ ability to vote together to oppose most anything proposed by Republicans.
Ninety-six percent of House Democrats opposed the responsible House budget proposal in HB 1, and 90 percent opposed the related policy bill, HB 2. This means all but a small percentage of Democrats in the House opposed the budget approved by a bipartisan majority of the House Finance committee that included property tax relief, increased resources for alcohol and drug abuse, increased funding for services for the developmentally disabled, and increased funding for the Community College System.
Moving forward, the Republican Caucus has many important initiatives we plan on uniting behind. These include reforming our election laws to prevent drive-by voting and preserve the integrity of our elections, finding ways to reduce the cost of electricity, retaining and attracting workers to the state, expanding school choice, and making our state more competitive, helping to grow, attract and retain more jobs.
We have already had several major Republican initiatives pass the House. These include Constitutional Carry, more oversight over the University System budget, several reforms to election laws, and passing the “Croydon Bill,” which would permit school boards to assign a child to an approved nonsectarian private school if there is no public school for the child’s grade in the child’s resident district.
We have also rallied against Democrat-sponsored legislation that was contrary to our agenda, and that we believe would be wrong for New Hampshire. These include mandating a spike in the state minimum wage, repealing the education tax credit scholarship program, requiring background checks for lawful transfer of firearms, establishing an income tax, and extending the interest and dividends tax to capital gains, among many others. These are measures that many Democrats campaign on, and failed to win them a majority in the House.
We are elected by the voters of our districts to act in their best interests. We are a party with a full spectrum of positions and opinions on fiscal and social policy. Despite our variances in views, and local concerns shaping individual votes, Republicans vote together the vast majority of the time based on our belief that common sense and pragmatism are what our constituents want and deserve.
There is a lot of work left to do, and the House Republican Majority in Concord is committed to building a coalition that will ensure that our Republican principles are represented in the legislation that we pass, and the people of New Hampshire have confidence in the Legislature and their state government.